West Virginia Expects Online Gaming Launch By July
The West Virginia Lottery Commission (WVLC) approved emergency rules for online gaming, which means that online operators may go live in the state by July 2020, based on comments made by WVLC’s director John Myers.
The WVLC approved the rules on April 29 and will now be filed by the West Virginia Secretary of State’s Office by May 15. West Virginia will have 42 days to decide on the matter.
Myers stated that, if the Secretary of State approves, West Virginian operators can commence offering online gaming with minimum internal controls. The rules will be in effect for 15 months, until a permanent set of rules is agreed upon by the legislature after that timeframe.
iGaming Licenses Temporary
Under the draft regulations, land-based venues will be allowed to operate up to three skins with their license for a $100,000 fee; technology or systems suppliers for online gaming operators will have to pay a $10,000 fee.
The WVLC will be permitted to grant temporary licenses that give suppliers and operators that last 270 days, after which a full review and decision will be made on their suitability to maintain the license.
The West Virginia Lottery Interactive Wagering Act—HB2934 was passed in March 2019. It mandates a 15% gross revenue tax on operators. The WVLC has also stated that a percentage of operators’ revenue can be set aside for tax-free promotional credits. All gambling advertising must pass the inspection of the WVLC director before it can be released to the public.
The bill also requires gambling operators to collate data on self-exclusions and problem gamblers every week, with their responses reviewed and preserved for the record.
West Virginia’s Push not Prompted by COVID-19
Myers has stated that the COVID-19 pandemic has little to do with their use of emergency rules to expedite their online gaming market. The emergency rules were already being finalized by the time the pandemic reached West Virginia, with July 1 being the deadline for filing the rules.
If the Secretary of State and the WVLC agree with each other on the rules, Myers estimates that the state’s online gaming could go live in July at the latest.
The rules will have to be passed by the West Virginia legislature in 2021 for them to become permanent. West Virginia’s push to legalize online gaming market comes soon after the state made the decision to legalize sports betting.